Mariners Insider Blog

Question for the ages - and the Mariners: Who's on first?

If you think the Seattle Mariners have more catchers than they need, consider the question made famous by Abbott and Costello – Who's on first?

There are only four legitimate candidates at catcher. At first base? They have at least five men who'll battle for playing time there, and no one permanent starter is likely to emerge in spring training.

The team gave Bryan LaHair the chance to play last year, but his production = apparently hampered by an ailing back – was unimpressive. Still, he's spent he off-season strengthening his back, and whatever LaHair has, it's likely to be on display in camp. LaHair has even volunteered to return to the outfield, where he last played more than four years ago.

At seasons end, the Mariners first baseman was Jose Lopez. Without the range of a true second baseman, Lopez played first base well and continued hitting. Lopez didn't like the move and wants no part of the position – but that's not his call.

This winter, the Mariners sent Mike Morse, the shortstop-turned-outfielder, to the instructional league, then winter ball, to learn to play first base. He's learned, and is healthy and will get a look from the new coaching staff.

To that mix, general manager Jack Zduriencik added free agent Russell Branyan, a left-handed hitter with power who can play first base or serve as the DH and will likely get plenty of time at both.

The Mariners also signed first baseman Chris Shelton to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

One position, five candidates. In a bit more than a month, the team will begin the process of sorting out who's on first.

If it were your call, who would start – or would you platoon? How many first basemen would you keep on the 25-man roster?

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